Reforming size and weight limits is wise
The upcoming special session of the Wisconsin legislature will include several transportation-related reforms to increase the competitiveness of our agriculture, manufacturing, and shipping industries. These proposals include various changes to laws that regulate the size and weight of trucks on Wisconsin highways.
Changes to truck size and weight laws should be made only after careful consideration of their impact not only on the trucking industry, but also on highway safety and the condition of our infrastructure. Recognizing this fact, the legislature passed a law in 2007 requiring the Department of Transportation to complete a comprehensive technical study of our current truck size and weight laws, and how they could be improved. The “Wisconsin Truck Size and Weight Study” was completed in 2009.
Two of the bills proposed in the current special session are a direct outgrowth of that study. Those bills will allow, under certain circumstances, an increase in maximum truck weight from 80,000 to 90,000 pounds. While it may seem that heavier trucks automatically mean more road damage and less safe travel, that isn’t the case. By also requiring an extra axle to distribute the additional weight and increase braking ability, these heavier trucks can operate without greater degradation of our infrastructure or reduced highway safety. This carefully considered increase in truck weights means less trucks on the highway, lower cost for shippers, and a competitive advantage for Wisconsin’s agriculture and manufacturing industries.
Other proposals in the package of reforms will make regulatory changes that bring Wisconsin’s truck permitting laws into closer conformity with our neighboring states. By doing so, we decrease the regulatory burden on interstate shippers and reduce the cost of transporting the freight that moves our economy.
A careful, evidence-based reform of our truck size and weight laws will help improve the economic environment for job creators by making our transportation system operate more efficiently, without compromising safety or the condition of our highways. That’s a wise move all around.
Mark Gottlieb, Secretary
Wisconsin Department of Transportation